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Protect & Serve: A Winch, Lights And Beefy Bumper For A Backcountry-Bound Chevy Colorado ZR2

Posted in How To: Body Chassis on June 28, 2018
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Chevrolet’s Colorado ZR2 is a formidable 4x4 on- and off-pavement, sporting the best suspension and drivetrain GM has ever offered in a midsize pickup. Combine the incredible suspension control of the Multimatic DSSV shocks with the traction from electronic-locking differentials at both ends, and you have a stellar performer right off the showroom floor. Step up to the optional 2.8L Duramax turbodiesel, and improved fuel economy and low-end torque elevate that performance to an even higher level.

The Colorado ZR2 comes ready to rock. But as good as it is from the factory, there are things that can be done to elevate the truck to the next level, such as adding a heavy-duty front bumper to replace its plastic fascia. An aftermarket bumper can improve front-end protection, make it easy to add auxiliary lighting and a winch, and improve approach angle.

Addictive Desert Designs’ (ADD) Stealth Fighter front bumper for the ’17-’18 ZR2 does just that, and it’s available in both winch and non-winch versions. Some features that make the ADD bumper appealing: the radius design matches the contours of the factory fascia, it retains the factory skidplate, it has a universal center light mount for up to 30-inch lightbars or cube combos, and the bumper weighs less than 80 pounds.

Those are the very reasons Steve Conlee, and avid outdoorsman who spends a lot of time exploring the deserts of the Southwest and backcountry of the Pacific Northwest, had Dunks Performance in Springfield, Oregon, install a winch-model Stealth Fighter on his Duramax-powered ’18 Colorado ZR2. Conlee’s upgrade also included a Warn VR 10-S winch, Rigid LED lights, and an sPOD with the switch panel fitted into the ZR2’s factory overhead console.

Addictive Desert Designs’ Stealth Fighter winch bumper is a strong, yet lightweight, steel-and-aluminum unit that is built to match the contours of the ’17-’18 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. This truck was also fit with Rigid LED lights and a Warn VR 10-S winch.

The installation of the winch and bumper took about four hours, with the wiring and mounting of the lights and sPOD taking up the rest of the day. Nothing about the installation is technically difficult. What ate up a lot of the time was marking and cutting the polyurethane bumper cover fascia so the Stealth bumper would look as if it were a Chevrolet option, and custom-mounting the sPOD switch panel into the overhead console. ADD’s instructions are very detailed, making the installation, especially cutting away the GM plastic bumper, smooth. The Rigid Industries LED lights and sPOD wiring are also easy to install, with the latter providing templates for mounting the control box and switch panel. Both have plug-and-play wiring, too.

As our photos of the key aspects of Dunks tech Robert Shepler doing the install show, this entire upgrade can be handled easily by the DIYer in their own garage with minimal tools. The time and money for this aftermarket facelift is well spent because when it’s finished, the Colorado ZR2 is truly ready for four-wheelin’—anywhere, anytime.

The Stealth Fighter bumper install began with Dunks tech Robert Shepler removing the OEM skidplate, which was reinstalled later using the same 15mm bolts. We also had to remove the two 10mm bolts underneath that hold the bumper cover (fascia) to the impact bar (shown).
Detaching the Colorado’s lower inner fender liners from the fascia only required removing the 7mm bolts on each inner corner. The tools required for this install are very minimal and basic, although a good swivel socket comes in quite handy.
The fun part of the installation was running masking tape along the upper body line of the bumper cover. ADD details the taping and marking aspects in a PDF that is available on the company’s website. Very specific measurements are provided as to where to place marks on the tape where the cut line will be placed so the remaining upper fascia aligns with the top of the Stealth Fighter bumper.
It takes a steady hand to make the initial cut. Shepler took his time and made the first cut 1/2-inch below the mark. This way the new bumper could be placed to see how it aligned before making a final trim on the remaining plastic.
Cutting away the lower portion of the front bumper means the license plate mount will be removed, so you’ll have to figure out how/where to mount the license plate in states that require one in the front. The ADD winch-style bumper doesn’t have provisions for remounting it.
The impact bar, towhooks, and air diverter (shown) were removed. The new bumper has good airflow into the radiator and the Duramax intercooler. Another plus.
With the impact bar and air diverter out of the way, Shepler temporarily set the ADD bumper into place to check the alignment and fit against the remaining part of the fascia.
The test-fit showed the actual marked cut line was where we needed to trim to for proper alignment. One change we made was cutting the “step-up” (hidden under Shepler’s left hand) at a 45-degree angle instead of vertical as ADD’s directions indicate. We felt that cutting it this way fit the angles of the bumper better.
With the Colorado’s front end ready for the bumper, we turned our attention to mounting the 30-inch Rigid Industries RDS Pro lightbar in the ADD bumper. The Stealth Fighter bumper is designed for this curved lightbar, so the fit was perfect. We also installed a pair of Rigid’s matching single-row amber lights in the bumper’s wings. (Tape on the bumper keeps it from getting scratched during the install.)
We also installed a Warn VR 10-S, along with the wireless remote winch control. The winch is not easily accessible once installed in the bumper, hence the need for the remote. The synthetic winch rope keeps weight minimized.
Our last modification before installing the winch bumper was moving the engine air sensor from its factory location, low and behind the air diverter we’d removed, to the highest point the loom allowed and using a plastic tie-wrap to secure it in place.
If you don’t have an extra body to help install the bumper, a hydraulic table cart, like those offered by Northern Tool + Equipment, is a handy helper. The winch and bumper combo weighs less than 150 pounds, so the least expensive hydraulic cart works great for this job. (Tip: Spooling out about 10 feet of rope helps access the winch-to-bumper mounting bolts.)
Installation required removing the factory U-nuts on the bottom of the front crossmember and replacing them with the larger 5/16-inch U-nuts supplied with the ADD bumper. The factory bolts we’d removed and saved earlier were then used to mount the bumper, leaving the bolts loose until final bumper alignment was done. When aligned, we torqued the bolts to 13 lb-ft and reinstalled the factory skidplate.
With a raft of Rigid LEDs on the new ZR2, the owner needed a way to easily control them from the driver seat. Precision Design’s modular six-switch sPOD was just the ticket. The only mounting location we could find for the fuse/control box was under the Duramax coolant bottle on top of the passenger-side inner fender.
The included templates made drilling the mounting holes for the control box easy, and the open space on the ZR2’s fender behind the airbox was a nice, flat mounting location. We made sure there were no wires or hoses underneath the fender before we drilled.
A made-to-order location to place the sPOD six-switch rocker panel was the ZR2’s overhead console where sunglasses usually reside. The console snapped out by pulling it straight down to access the wiring harness. sPOD has a template for the switch panel. We taped it to the face of the console and marked the corners and drew the cut lines.
We took our time making the cutout, then went back with a file to enlarge the hole so the switch panel would be a snug snap-in fit. We also used a Vari-Bit to punch a 1-inch hole in the back of the console for the sPOD wiring harness connector to fit through.
We routed the sPOD harness across the headliner, down the A-pillar, and through the firewall to the control box.
We also used a Vari-Bit to make a 1-inch hole in the firewall just below the ECM. You can use mastic or “plumber’s putty” to seal the area around the wire loom to keep water out.
The sPOD control box allows fast connection of auxiliary lights and other components. We ran the 8-gauge ground and hot leads behind the engine to the battery, which is located on the driver side.
The last item we addressed with the bumper installation was trimming the inner fender to match the contour of the bumper. A sharp razor knife made short work of the process.
The Addictive Desert Designs Stealth Fighter front winch bumper provides just the right amount of style, protection, and self-recovery and lighting mounts.

Weights & Measures

Recently folks have contacted us wanting to know the weight of some of the modifications added to vehicles in tech stories. Hence, we used a Northern Tool + Equipment 1,100-pound-capacity digital hanging scale to weigh all the parts added and removed during this install. As you’ll see, the very modest increase in weight was well worth it, considering the vast improvements the aftermarket items provide.

Removed
• Plastic fascia: 10.5 pounds
• Steel bumper bar: 5.3 pounds
• Factory towhooks: 1.9 pounds

Added
• ADD Stealth Fighter winch bumper: 74.5 pounds
• Warn VR 10-S: 49.4 pounds
• sPOD & Rigid LED Lights: 35.7 pounds

Total weight increase: 141.9 pounds

PhotosView Slideshow

Sources

Warn Industries
Clackamas, OR 97015
800-910-1122
www.warn.com
Rigid Industries
Mesa, AZ 85215
855-760-5337
www.rigidindustries.com
Northern Tool & Equipment
Burnsville, MN 55306
800-221-0516
www.northertool.com
Addictive Desert Designs
855-233-8992
www.addictivedesertdesigns.com
Dunks Performance
541-726-1006
http://dunksperformance.com/

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